A Lightning Rod Special production
Created by Shayok Misha Chowdhury, Scott R. Sheppard, and Alice Yorke
Written by Scott R. Sheppard in collaboration with the ensemble
Directed by Shayok Misha Chowdhury
September 27 - October 1
September 27 at 7:30pm
September 28 at 7:30pm
September 29 at 7:30pm
September 30 at 7:30pm
October 1 at 2:00pm
October 1 at 7:30pm
Proscenium Theatre at The DrakeMap
SPEECH is a poisonous love letter to cancel culture. The show isn’t just happening on stage. It’s happening in your DMs. And in your kid’s eye rolls. In your hook-up agreements. In your attempt to actually compost this year. During your daily subway cry. It’s all the things we don’t say about the things we DO say.
Lightning Rod Special (The Appointment, Underground Railroad Game) offers a satirical scrutiny of the free speech debate and the rapidly shifting terrain of civil discourse within our hyper-visible social-media-centered world. Characters careen through different microcosms of American culture in a searing look at how trepidation and performativity infect all aspects of our lives.
Philadelphia-based performance company Lightning Rod Special specializes in raucous and contemplative works that scramble theatrical conventions and intellectual assumptions. SPEECH continues their investigations into lightning rod topics, exploding complex questions with precision and play.
“Brutal and brilliant”—The Philadelphia Inquirer
Creators: Shayok Misha Chowdhury, Scott R. Sheppard, and Alice Yorke
Writer: Scott R. Sheppard in collaboration with the ensemble
Director: Shayok Misha Chowdhury
Assistant Director: Andalyn Young
Creator-Performers: Fernando Gonzalez, Yuki Kawahisa, Jaime Maseda, Terran Scott, Scott R. Sheppard, Alice Yorke, Jehan O. Young
Additional Development: Billy Griffin Jr., Saori Tsukada
Scenic Designer: Peiyi Wong
Costume Designer: Kimberly Redman
Lighting Designer: Oona Curley
Sound Designer: M. Florian Staab
Prop Designer and Scenic Assistant: Victoria Gill-Gomez
Associate Producers: Lucy Jackson and Renee Blinkwolt
Production Management and Technical Direction: Lauren Tracy and Joe Daniels, Flannel & Hammer
Health & Safety
Proof of vaccination is required to attend this event. Masks are optional. For the safety of audiences, artists, staff, and our greater community, you must be fully vaccinated to attend this event. You will be asked to show proof of vaccination before entering the venue. Accepted forms for proof of vaccination include a physical vaccine card with your name on it or a digital proof of vaccination Please plan accordingly.
Festival Icon Producers: Lisa Roberts & David Seltzer
Festival Star Producers: Mark & Tobey Dichter
Festival Producers: Carol Klein & Lawrence Spitz
Festival Co-Producers: Shelley Green & Michael Golden
Festival Associate Producer: Christie Hartwell
$29 general (Sep 28–Oct 1)
$20 (Tuesday, September 27 Preview performance)
$15 students & 25-and-under
Tickets go on sale to FringeArts Members on Friday, August 5, and to the general public on Monday, August 8.
Not a member? Join now! FringeArts Members also receive 20% off tickets and additional perks!
Proscenium Theatre at The Drake
302 S Hicks St
Philadelphia, PA 19102
About the Artists
Lightning Rod Special is a Philadelphia-based original performance company that creates raucous and contemplative works to ask questions of ourselves, our audience, and the world at large. Like scientists, we begin each project with a hypothesis and, following artistic investigations, find our way to complete pieces of theatre that twist the ordinary into alien, provoke debate, and stir what lies dormant in the corners of an audience’s mind. With big hearts, we tackle lightning rod topics in ways that scramble theatrical conventions and intellectual assumptions. Exploding complex questions with precision and play, Lightning Rod Special makes live performance from the ground up.
Shayok Misha Chowdhury is a many-tentacled writer and director based in Brooklyn. A Jonathan Larson Grant awardee and Sundance, Fulbright, and NYSCA/NYFA fellow, Misha is currently writing and directing a new bilingual play, Public Obscenities, premiering next season at Soho Rep, co-commissioned and co-produced with NAATCO. Recent projects: Brother, Brother (New York Theatre Workshop) with Aleshea Harris; MukhAgni (Under the Radar) with Kameron Neal. Misha is also the creator of VICHITRA, a series of sound-driven, cinematic experiments including Englandbashi (Ann Arbor Film Festival), The Other Other (Ars Nova), In Order to Become (Bushwick Starr), and An Anthology of Queer Dreams (Audio Unbound Award finalist). He was a collaborator on the Grammy-winning album Calling All Dawns and has been published in The Cincinnati Review, TriQuarterly, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Asian American Literary Review, and elsewhere. Misha is an alumnus of NYTW 2050, The Public’s Devised Theater Working Group, Ars Nova’s Makers Lab, NYSAF Nexus, and Soho Rep’s Project Number One and Writer/Director Lab. Publications: MFA: Columbia.
Scott R. Sheppard is an OBIE award-winning theater artist and Co-Artistic Director of theater company Lightning Rod Special (2019 Barrymore Award for Evolving Theatre Company). Recent credits: Writer of Blood Meal for Theater in Quarantine (NY Times Critics’ Pick); Lead Writer/Performer in Lightning Rod Special’s The Appointment (Best of 2019 Time Out NY, NY Mag, NY Times Critics’ Pick). He was the co-creator and performer of Underground Railroad Game, which toured the world, earned an Edinburgh Fringe First Award and was named by the NYTimes as one of the 25 Best Plays of the past 25 Years. Scott graduated from Pig Iron’s School for Advanced Performance Training and has collaborated on several works with Pig Iron including: Period of Animate Existence, 99 Breakups (deviser/performer) and Gentlemen Volunteers (performer). Independence Foundation Fellow, Guild Hall Resident Artist, BRIC Lab Resident, and current member of Page 73’s Interstate 73 Writer’s Group. Scott is also the writer of Theater in Quarantine’s Topside in 2022 Cannonball Festival (happening right now).
Alice Yorke is a Philadelphia-based actor, creator, director, and producer. She is a Co-Artistic Director of Lightning Rod Special and the lead artist on their latest piece, The Appointment (Best of 2019 Theater: New York Times, Time Out New York, New York Magazine). With LRS: performer/creator: Hackles, Let the Dog See the Rabbit and Sans Everything; creative producer: Underground Railroad Game (2015). Performance credits include How to Be Brave (Inis Nua), The Gap (Azuka Theatre, Barrymore nomination, outstanding supporting performance), Down Past Passyunk (InterAct Theatre), Alex Bechtel’s The West, Pig Iron Theatre Company’s 99 Breakups and Pay Up. Recent directing credits include We Are Trying to Reach You, an audio work by Katie Gould as part of LRS’s Sound Break series, Cerebral (UArts), and Lee Minora’s White Feminist (Ars Nova Ant Fest). In 2019 she was named the Best Theatre Talent in Philadelphia by Philadelphia Magazine. Proud graduate of the inaugural class of the Pig Iron School for Advanced Performance Training.
Be Part of the Story
Help FringeArts present world-class, contemporary performing arts that challenge convention and inspire new ways of thinking.